The major case against Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman will be closed, but he will be indicted on charges of breaches of trust in another case, Channel 2 News reported on Tuesday.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has decided to indict Lieberman in the case of Ze'ev Ben-Aryeh, who was the Israeli ambassador to Belarus, the report indicated.
Ben-Aryeh was suspected of informing Lieberman that the Israel Police were conducting an investigation into his affairs in Belarus. During a meeting between the two, Ben-Aryeh is believed to have passed a note to Lieberman with the name of the company and the bank account that the police were investigating. Lieberman reportedly read the note and then flushed it.
The ambassador was later charged with obstruction of justice. In September he was convicted in a plea bargain and sentenced to four months of community service.
The charge of breach of trust against Lieberman is based on the Foreign Minister allegedly having acted to promote Ben-Aryeh after the incident.
At the same, Channel 2 reported, Weinstein decided to close the main case against Lieberman, involving the alleged receipt of huge sums of money from companies he continued to control while holding public office.
According to the report, the decision was made after the state prosecutor's office realized that its key witness intended to testify for rather than against Lieberman at a trial.
In April, the Attorney General’s office indicated that the investigation into Lieberman would be “concluded in the coming weeks”, but no decision on whether to indict the Foreign Minister has been reached until now.
The police inquiry into Lieberman began in 1999 – 13 years ago – as a fruitless probe into alleged infractions of Israel's campaign financing laws. Turning up nothing, police moved onto Lieberman's business and banking practices.
In January, Lieberman was given two hearings to defend himself against the long-brewing allegations against him.
Lieberman was out of the country on an official trip and did not attend the hearing, but his lawyers presented his case in his absence.
Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino hinted on Saturday that he believes it would not make sense to indict Lieberman now, so many years after the investigation began.
“It cannot be that we put someone on trial today for an offense committed a decade ago,” he said. “This damages the effectiveness of the law enforcement system, especially regarding public corruption.”
According to Danino, "The judicial process is long, and by the time you are able to attach a punishment to certain behavior, you’ve forgotten what the case is about. We need to enact, in law, a time period within which an indictment can be filed. If you filed one – you’ve filed it. If you didn’t – the case will be closed. This would force the system to be more efficient.”